Independence Day is around the corner and for many Americans this means the start of celebrations with fireworks, food, friends and family. Though the Fourth of July is a celebratory time, it does come with its own dangers due to fireworks. The International Association of Firefighters reports that 10,000 people are injured annually as a result of fireworks. The IAFF and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives both urge Americans to stay safe with a few tips.
1. Leave the guns at home or in the holster
It might be tempting to go Yosemite Sam on the Fourth, firing celebratory guns into the air to mark America’s Independence, but discharging guns in residential or public areas is generally frowned upon. Depending on local laws, it might even be illegal. Furthermore, firing guns without a proper backstop can prove dangerous or even fatal.
“Shooting a gun into the air is not only reckless, it’s extremely dangerous,” Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine told the Indianapolis Star. “A bullet that is fired into the air will come back down with enough velocity to seriously injure or kill someone.”
On the Fourth, keep to fireworks and leave guns locked up at home or securely in a holster.
2. Stick with consumer-grade fireworks
While we can all appreciate impressive light shows, the ATF warns that using illegally imported or homemade fireworks often land Americans in real trouble. “Illegal or improperly used fireworks can cause severe injuries or even death. Whether attending community displays or celebrating in your backyard, please exercise caution when dealing with fireworks,” the ATF said in a statement on Facebook.
The ATF urges Americans to skip the at-home fireworks altogether and instead opt for a public fireworks display in their local area for that wow factor without the risk. For those that prefer their own light show, the ATF suggests sticking with regular, everyday fireworks legally purchased from vendors to avoid becoming an injury statistic.
3. Use fireworks responsibly
With a bevy of fireworks at the ready, it’s important to remain safe and responsible while handling fireworks to ensure the best possible results. Remember to keep all fireworks outdoors and pointed in safe directions. The IAFF said there are twice as times many fires reported on Independence Day than any other day, so keep a bucket of water handy in the event of an accident.
Also, as much fun as kicking back with beers and bros can be on the Fourth of July, much like guns, fireworks and alcohol don’t mix. If you are the designated fireworks handler, forgo the beer and mixed drinks. Stay safe!
4. Keep kids at a safe distance
With an average 35-percent of minors under the age of 15 receiving fireworks-related injuries each year, it’s best to keep the kids at bay and relegate the fireworks to adults only. Even sparklers, which may seem harmless, can reach temperatures of over 1,000 degrees, according to the IAFF. Move the kiddos to a safe distance where they can relax and enjoy the show and keep the fireworks, sparklers included, away from minors.